Reference previous posts re Test fit prep: Rear axle and hubs and Rear suspension
Also refer to Lin Rose’s site (see sidebar) for excellent coverage of these topics, and more.

Following on from preparing the rear suspension for a trial fit (see link above), the next task was to rebuild the front suspension. Yep and I will be taking it all apart again … anyway the explanation of all that is covered in the links above.

Front suspension assembly
Key to front suspension assembly

First up I tackled the lower wishbones, removing the rubber bushes was straightforward, followed by the inevitable and routine, cleaning and wire brushing to remove the worst of the grease and surface rust.

Lower wishbone bush
Removing bush, I used a C clamp and a socket as “receiver”
Wishbone with the worst of the rust off – good enough for the test fit

Installing the new bushes was equally straightforward. I used a little dishwashing detergent as a lubricant.

Getting the bush started
Pressing the new bush into position
Wishbone with new bushes fitted

I then cleaned up the lower fulcrum shafts, these may need to be replaced as there is some corrosion on the ends, but for the purposes of a test fit they are fine.

Corroded lower fulcrum shaft
Cleaned shaft, the ends are quite pitted

One thing I did attend to was a thread which was damaged when I removed the shaft. I had recently purchased a rethreading kit and was keen to try it out. I’m happy to say it worked a treat.

Damaged thread
Repaired thread. It may not look perfect but the nut now runs on smoothly

I bolted the spring pans to the lower wishbones and attached these assemblies to the front suspension cross member (now removed from the car, again). The lower fulcrum shafts connect the lower wishbones to the front cross member. I coated the shafts with copper grease and gently tapped them into position.

As a (possibly) humorous aside, when I purchased the copper grease from an engineering company in a smallish regional town where we happened to be staying for a weekend, the guy beside me at the counter remarked that “You’ll never finish that in your lifetime” … yeah, thanks mate.

Rusty spring pan prior to a dose of wire brushing
Spring pan attached to lower wishbone
Fulcrum shaft with copper grease
The fulcrum shaft is fitted with a castellated nut at each end holding everything in place. For the test I’m not fitting the cotter (split) pins

I also cleaned up and temporarily bolted the lower shock absorber bracket into position. I noticed that the tab washers were missing from my car, something to be replaced when the time comes.

Shock absorber lower mounting bracket
Lower wishbone and spring pan fitted to cross member

Next I cleaned up the upper wishbone levers, the upper fulcrum shaft, the upper ball joint, the distance-piece, and associated shims which together set the Castor and Camber Angles. I simply replaced everything as it was when I disassembled the suspension.

Removing worn upper wishbone bushes
Pressing the replacement bush into position
Upper wishbone levers with new bushes fitted
Upper ball joint, distance-piece, and shims after a clean-up
Upper wishbone assembly, the shims and spacer are used to set the Castor Angle

I then attempted to fit new upper bump stops, but I ran into a bit of trouble at this point. As you can see from the images below the new bump stops didn’t quite fit, so I elongated the holes with a file. I had a look at the ones I removed from the car, they also had elongated holes. I assume this is just what you have to do from time to time when dealing  remanufactured parts.

The bump stop which came off the car (RH image) has slightly elongated mounting holes
A spot of filing and it all fits OK
Upper wishbone assembly, bump stop fitted

The shims that fit between the upper fulcrum shaft and the cross member set the Camber Angle, I (hopefully) have kept all these in the correct order.

Shims for setting the Camber Angle
Upper wishbone assembly bolted to cross member
Shims installed back in their original positions prior to disassembly

I then fitted replacement lower bump stops onto the cross member, there were no problems with the fit of these.

Replacement lower bump stop

Then onto the stub axle carriers. Luckily I hadn’t removed the stub axles from the carrier, which meant there was one less thing to deal with.

Stub axle carriers … more rust

I cleaned the lower ball joint components and reassembled with new rubber boots as these were damaged when I removed them. The ball joints and Railko socket will be replaced when I do the final rebuild.

Lower ball joint and socket
New lower ball joint boot

Fitting the stub axle carriers was straightforward with the exception that I needed to employ various means to get sufficient pressure on the ball joint tapered shafts to tighten them up, as without pressure the shafts just rotated in their housings.

My Heath Robinson method for applying sufficient pressure to tighten the upper and lower ball joints

Installing the front springs

Now it was time for the nerve-wracking process of replacing the road springs. I used a tool I borrowed from the Daimler Jaguar Spare Parts Club,  which actually turned out to be pretty much the same as the one I assembled to remove the springs in the first place. The tool most people seem to use is a length of 16 mm threaded rod with various bolts, washers and steel plates. I copied the idea from Lin Rose’s Blog.

Due to the forces involved in compressing and de-compressing coil springs, I think a disclaimer is appropriate:


Rusty spring as removed from car

For the refitting of the springs, I purchased 4 x 3/8 x 8 in UNF bolts which I bolted to the lower wishbone to act as guides, to keep things aligned as the spring is compressed. Once the spring pan is close to the final position, the long 3/8 in bolts are replaced with the spring pan bolts. Again, this idea came directly from Lin’s excellent site. After the application of plenty of copper grease on the threaded rod and the guides, the first issue I encountered was that the metal plate I used for the removal of the springs was in no way up to the task of taking the load during the compression process. I replaced it with a piece of 8 mm steel plate, which I had made up at a local engineering shop. With the plate and a ratcheting spanner things moved more quickly, but it’s still slow and careful work.

Spring removal. The plate I used for de-compressing the springs was not up to the task of compressing the springs. This gives some idea of the forces involved.

It turned out that there was a part of the tool I borrowed lost in transit, this was (I assume) similar to the end plate I had made up.

8 mm steel plate, this won’t bend!
Starting the process, spring pan aligned initially with 3/8 x 8 in UNF bolts
Compressing the spring, the ratcheting spanner made things a lot easier
All done,  phew! Now for the other side
Other side completed – time to relax!

With the springs back in place, I could relax. I have to say this is one of my least favourite experiences, and I did plenty of research before I removed the springs and again on reassembly to ensure everything was as safe as possible.

One thing I did struggle with was binding of the spring pan, even with the guide bolts, this is (I think) because the steel plate, unlike the correct tool (here),  doesn’t hold the lower spring pan in the correct position. I have read that some people use threaded rod and nuts for guides, rather than the bolts I used, to keep things aligned. This way you can adjust the angle of the spring pan by tightening the nuts as required. I will investigate this when I do this for the FINAL time. Which at this rate will be in the distant future!

Following the spring installation I installed the front shocks.

Shock absorber fitted

The next step is to fit the power steering conversion, which will be covered in the next post